The Ultimate Fighting Championship this week released 16 fighters from its roster, including world-ranked welterweight Jon Fitch, according to a Wednesday report.

UFC President Dana White confirmed to MMAFighting.com today that Fitch was among those let go in the recent culling.

Also released was heavyweight Mike Russow; light heavyweights Vladimir Matyushenko and Wagner Prado; welterweights Jay Hieron, Che Mills, Jorge Santiago, Mike Stumpf and Simeon Thoresen; lightweights Terry Etim, C.J. Keith, Paul Sass and Jacob Volkmann; featherweight Josh Grispi; bantamweight Motonobu Tezuka; and flyweight Ulysses Gomez.

While many of the cuts come as little surprise -- the UFC has long been known to release fighters after two or more consecutive losses -- the release of Fitch is somewhat shocking. The 34-year-old American Kickboxing Academy product has for years been considered one of the UFC’s top 170-pounders, even challenging Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight title in August 2008. Fitch was knocked out for the first time in his Octagon career by Johny Hendricks in December 2011, but rebounded with a win over Erick Silva last October. On Feb. 2, he dropped a lopsided decision to former middleweight contender Demian Maia.

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